Evil Horde

Grizzlor – Hairy henchman of The Evil Horde (1985)

I didn’t own Grizzlor as a kid, but my brother did, and (I got Leech and Mantenna at about the same time). Grizzlor is simultaneously hilarious and creepy, with his wild furry body and his vicious-looking face, like a cross between a Troll doll and mutant bear. With a predominantly brown color scheme, he’s actually one of the least colorful characters in the MOTU universe, but he certainly “pops” in other ways.

Grizzlor seems to have originated at Filmation. Several years back The Power and the Honor Foundation shared an early development image, reportedly created by Curtis Cim. The concept (below) is already quite well developed. Grizzlor wears an early version of the Horde insignia, some extra spikes, and sports five fingers, but otherwise he looks very close to his finished form.

Image source: The Power and Honor Foundation. Shared by Dusan M.

Another piece of Filmation development art for the character shows a look that is much closer to the appearance of the final action feature:

In another image from The Power and the Honor Foundation, we see Grizzlor in full color as depicted by Ted Mayer. He looks very close to his final toy form, except that he is holding a rather strange-looking ornate weapon. His face is quite a dark black/brown, which is how some version of the toy were colored, although most were produced in a lighter brown color. In this version he has two visible, prominent fangs, a hallmark of the look of the action figure.

Ted Mayer came up with a couple of somewhat related hairy henchmen concepts, including a mammoth/boar-like character (who has an identical pose to Grizzlor’s concept art) and a quite primitive-looking bear-like creature who, like Grizzlor, had two prominent fangs:

The first of the above two characters is often referred to as the Horde Mammoth by fans. However, Dušan M. pointed out a couple of interesting things about him. One, he isn’t straight Horde – his “Horde” insignia feature’s Skeletor’s face rather than Hordak’s. Another concept drawing by Ted Mayer, a Skeletor/Horde variant, features this same insignia:

The other thing about the Horde Mammoth character is he has no trunk. Other than the tusks, he looks quite like a wild boar. Grizzlor is described as a “wild boar” in the 1987 Style Guide, prompting both of us to wonder if these characters aren’t quite closely connected. The Style Guide is discussed in more detail later in this post.

A late stage Grizzlor prototype appears in Mattel’s 1985 dealer catalog. The prototype matches the look of the final toy, except that it is apparently hand-painted, and the Horde emblem on his chest is yellow:

As mentioned earlier, the most common version of the toy was produced with light brown molded plastic, and there was a rarer, darker version that took after Ted Mayer’s depiction. Both versions came with a green Horde crossbow with its spring-action  gimmick. Due to his action feature (if you can call mounds of fur an action feature), he lacked waist articulation.

Grizzlor’s cross sell art depicts the more common version of the figure. Note that Grizzlor’s unique crossbow appears in white here, rather than the final green.

Image courtesy of Axel Giménez

Underneath all that fur Grizzlor had a very plain and flat body:

In the illustration on the back of Grizzlor’s card, he’s shown mid-leap in a surprise attack against Kobra Khan.

Grizzlor was sold in two gift sets with Hordak – one of them a plain JCPenny box, and a more deluxe-looking set that came with a comic book illustrated by Bruce Timm. William George illustrated the scene on the front of the box, and the back was done by Bruce Timm:

Image source: Grayskull Museum
Image source: He-Man.org

Grizzlor’s name was trademarked on September 10, 1984. The name itself implies that he’s based on a grizzly bear, although looking I wouldn’t immediately associate him with that based on his face. He’s big and furry, which is I suppose close enough. However, as mentioned earlier, according to the 1987 Style Guide (illustrated by Errol McCarthy) Grizzlor is actually a kind of wild boar-like creature. Again, this brings to mind Ted Mayer’s “Horde Mammoth” character.

Power: Ability to ravage his foes with his wicked claws.

Character Profile: This humanoid boar has two sabretooth-like tusks and a large, shaggy body. He also has sharp, dangerous claws. Grizzlor has the same strength and ferocity of a wild boar, but he is no the greatest in the smarts department. Grizzlor is the prison keeper of The Evil Horde.

Grizzlor’s final look in the She-Ra cartoon series is somewhat more human-like than his action figure counterpart, and his harness is black rather than yellow, but it’s still a close resemblance. Grizzlor could be a bumbling underling or menacing henchman, depending upon the exigencies of the story, and also oversaw Beast Island. In some ways Grizzlor was the Beast Man to Hordak’s Skeletor.

In the minicomics Grizzlor was generally quite a menacing figure, most especially in the issue that he came packed with: Grizzlor – The Legend Comes Alive! (Illustrated by Bruce Timm.)

Grizzlor also makes appearances in:

  • Mantenna and the Menace of the Evil Horde
  • Hordak – The Ruthless Leader’s Revence
  • The Treachery of Modulok
  • The Power of the Evil Horde
  • Escape from the Slime Pit
  • The Warrior Machine

Grizzlor also appears in the 1985 Golden story, The Horde, where it’s said that he is the Horde prison guard. Here Grizzlor actually looks very close to Ted Mayer’s depiction of him:

Grizzlor appeared in a number of posters by William George, Earl Norem, Esteban Maroto, and others:

Grizzlor of course makes other appearances in a variety of comics and magazines, which is a topic I may explore in a future post.

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Evil Horde

Hordak – Ruthless Leader of the Evil Horde (1985)

For some unfathomable reason, Hordak was the only member of the original 1985 Evil Horde that we didn’t have in the house growing up. My brother had Grizzlor, and I had Leech, Mantenna and Modulok. But what’s a faction without its leader?

Image courtesy of Axel Gimenez

Design & Development

Hordak is the leader of the Evil Horde faction, which debuted in 1985. According to Roger Sweet, the character name and the concept of the Evil Horde were created by Dave Capper, Director of Marketing for Boy’s Toys at Mattel. Mattel and Filmation apparently worked in tandem to develop Hordak, going through many iterations of the character before arriving at two final designs. One design would be appear on  toy shelves and the other in the She-Ra cartoon (source: The Power and the Honor Foundation Catalog).

Dušan M. put together a nice graphic showing the sequential evolution of Hordak’s design. You can check it out at the Ancient Library of Grayskull Facebook group. I’ll go through each design, following Dušan’s ordering. The Filmation images come from Dark Horse’s Art of He-Man, Dark Horse’s He-Man and She-Ra, Dušan M., and eBay.

In this early concept (below), Hordak, while menacing, has the look of a post-apocalyptic thug, like a He-Man character crossed with something from Mad Max.

In the concept drawing below (by Gerald Forton and Herb Hazelton), Hordak looks much less human, and more menacing, in an alien punk-rocker kind of way. The overlapping plates on his armor give him a bit of an H. R. Giger quality. An early Shadow Weaver concept is included.


This concept below looks quite close to the first one, although it lacks the Horde emblem on the chest.


In this concept image shared by Dušan, Hordak’s costume is starting to come together, although his face still looks relatively human.

The concept below is closer still to the final Hordak design, although he still sports a punk rock row of spikes on his head.

From here we get a couple of divergent looks for Hordak, one from Filmation and one from Mattel. Both of them dropped the one-armed look (although in the Filmation cartoon Hordak could transform his arm into a cannon, and Mattel eventually came out with a Hordak variant with arm attachments).

Both of them had a similar looking, mask-like face, with a bone cowl around the back of his head. Filmation’s Hordak had a blue body suit and symmetrical arm bands. The animated Hordak has a somewhat sharp, mechanical-looking head:

Meanwhile, at Mattel, Ted Mayer took an early Filmation model sheet and tweaked it slightly, adding a red cape (thanks to Dušan M for this information). Hordak was colored gray, black and red – good vampire colors. He was given a bat-shaped shield and a strange organic-looking weapon. He has Horde bat insignias all over his costume, including on the armband on his left arm (the Filmation version had two armbands with no insignia). His head has warty-looking bumps on it and looks organic rather than mechanical.

Image source: Tomart’s Action Figure Digest
Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation/Dark Horse

The Evil Horde insignia is actually Hordak’s face, with batwings on either side:

According to Roger Sweet, Hordak’s face was based on a witch doctor’s mask. Interestingly, Ted Mayer did another concept that’s even closer to that idea, although this one is unlikely to have anything to do with Hordak:

Production Figure

The toy was based on Ted Mayer’s final design for the character, although the strange weapon was changed out for a crossbow:

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Cross Sell artwork, showing the toy’s final design. Image courtesy of Axel Giménez.

An early version of the figure feature red “ribs” on the sides of the armor, and a painted red bat on the back, underneath the cape. The extra paint applications are omitted from subsequent releases, however.

Packaging

In the illustration on the back of the packaging, Hordak and his minions make ready to storm Castle Grayskull. Interestingly, Hordak holds Skeletor‘s staff here:

Other Artwork

Errol McCarthy also depicted the character in a number of different contexts (images below are from He-Man.org), including the 1987 Style Guide, which described him this way:

Hordak acquired his power while passing through the plane from Etheria to Eternia. He as since discovered how to retain and refine it.

Gift Sets

Hordak was sold in a number of gift sets, including a couple of different sets with Grizzlor, and a Canadian set with Roboto and Sy-Klone. Hordak was also sold in 1986 together with Mantisaur, his insectoid steed.

Comic Depictions

As a toy, Hordak was marketed under the Masters of the Universe brand, despite being the primary villain in Filmation’s She-Ra series. Although Hordak was a constant presence is the She-Ra cartoon, Mattel treated him very differently in their own stories. He only shows up in She-Ra’s first minicomic (The Story of She-Ra). In the Princess of Power minicomic canon, Catra is actually She-Ra’s primary nemesis.

Hordak, meanwhile, is a frequently-appearing villain in He-Man’s minicomics starting in 1985, appearing in the following comics:

  • Grizzlor – The Legend Comes Alive
  • Leech – The Master of Power Suction
  • Mantenna and the Menace of the Evil Horde
  • Hordak – The Ruthless Leader’s Revenge
  • The Treachery of Modulok
  • The Power of the Evil Horde
  • Escape From the Slime Pit
  • The Menace of Multi-Bot
  • The Warrior Machine
  • The Hordes of Hordak
  • Between a Rock and a Hard Place
  • Enter… Buzz-Saw Hordak

In Leech’s surreal comic, Hordak and Leech both had the power to grow and shrink at will – which doesn’t seem to follow in any other stories.

LMPS (9)
Image via the Dark Horse He-Man Minicomics Collection

Animation

In the minicomics cannon, Hordak is generally less well-equipped on Eternia than he is on Etheria, the setting for the She-Ra cartoon series. In Etheria, Hordak’s Fright Zone is a massive industrial nightmare structure, and he has access to legions of troops and vehicles:

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hordak throne
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In the He-Man cartoon series, the heroes are in power, and the villains are constantly trying to take it from them. The She-Ra cartoon series has it flipped – the Horde has already defeated Etheria, and She-Ra and her allies strive to overthrow Hordak (voiced by George Dicenzo). The Horde is something like the Empire in the Star Wars series.

When Hordak was introduced, he was written in as the former master of Skeletor; Skeletor is said to have betrayed Hordak and set up shop on Eternia. Hordak has the ability not only to transform his arm into a canon, but his entire body into various mechanical devices. He reports to his mysterious brother Horde Prime, who is the supreme commander of the Horde Empire across all its worlds.

Box Art & Poster Appearances

Hordak makes appearances in the following box art:

  • The Fright Zone
  • Hordak Grizzlor
  • Hordak and Mantisaur
  • Slime Pit
  • Beam-Blaster & Artilleray

Hordak also appears in several posters by William George, Earl Norem, Esteban Maroto and others. He is variously portrayed in both his Filmation and toy looks:

Other Appearances

Hordak of course appears in a wide variety of published media. Because he’s a primary villain, it’s not practical to try to track his every appearance, but I’ll cover some representative samples here:

Golden, 1985: The Horde

“Day of the Comet” newspaper story

UK MOTU Magazine, Issue 71

As a villain, Hordak is certainly creepy enough, although he doesn’t have the archetypal quality of Skeletor. Skeletor is a symbol for death, and you instantly recognize what he’s about at first sight. Hordak has more of a horror movie creature quality. To me, Hordak is outshone by his even more freakish henchmen, while Skeletor is the most interesting villain in his faction. Still, I would have loved to have had this figure as a kid to lead my shambling band of bizarro Hordesmen.

Hordak in Action

Øyvind Meisfjord has kindly shared the following image as well as a short video of Hordak in action:

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Resource

Parts Reuse in MOTU, Part Four: 1985

Masters of the Universe, for all its diversity and creativity, was quite an economical toyline, creatively (and sometimes uncreatively) using and reusing the same molds over and over again throughout its run. Sometimes this was done fairly invisibly, and other times it was as plain as the nose on Faker’s face.

In this series I’ll be cataloging the reuse of existing molds, in context of what is known and what is likely about which figures were created in what order. For example, He-Man’s prototype was almost certainly finished before Man-At-Arms, so Man-At-Arms reused He-Man’s legs, rather than vice versa. I’ll also include parts that were reused from other toylines.

Sometimes existing parts were modified for use in new toys. For example, Beast Man’s chest seems to have been based on He-Man’s chest sculpt, albeit with a great deal of hair added to it. This didn’t save money on tooling, but it did save some time and effort for the sculptor. I’ll point this out whenever I see it. Whenever a modified part is used again, however, I’ll refer to it as belonging to the toy that used it first (for example, Stratos and Zodac reuse Beast Man’s chest).

I won’t comment on “invisible” parts, such as neck pegs or waist springs that are normally not seen.

First, the toys from 1985 that had (at the time) all new parts. For fun, I’m including one unproduced toy that made it into a 1985 catalog:

Sy-Klone

Modulok

Fright Zone

Bashasaurus

Battle Bones

Land Shark

Spydor

Evil Robot (unproduced)

These toys from 1985 reused some existing parts:

Thunder Punch He-Man

Roboto

Moss Man

Dragon Blaster Skeletor

Two Bad

Spikor

Stinkor

Hordak

Grizzlor

Leech

Mantenna

Night Stalker

A few additional notes:

All of the Horde crossbow share some sculpted areas in common – basically everything except the head and the butt of the weapons. I don’t know which of them was done first – I’m defaulting to Hordak’s weapon as the basis for the others, in the absence of other information.

The modified Thunder Punch He-Man legs (with their enlarged feet for greater stability) were used in some versions of the following figures: Faker II, Spikor, Man-At-Arms, He-Man, Fisto, Tri-Klops, Battle Armor He-Man, and Jitsu, especially in the French “rubber boot” variants.

The modified Dragon Blaster Skeletor legs (with their enlarged feet for greater stability) were used in some versions of the following figures: Skeletor (Hong Kong), Ninjor, and Scare Glow (more on the last two figures in the feature on parts reuse in 1987).

The information about the reuse of these legs was provided to me by Mantisaur82, who is extremely knowledgeable about production variants.

Update: Thanks to Emmanuel V. for reminding me about the made-in-France version of Stinkor, with its blue He-Man shield.

Parts Reuse series:

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Artwork

Box Art From A-Z, Part Five: 1986

box-art-a-z-graphic-1986

One of the best things about getting new He-Man toys as a kid was the box art. The toys were of course amazing and fun, but personally I spent almost as much time staring at the boxes as playing with the toys. I remember being pretty heartbroken when my mother made me throw away my Castle Grayskull and Battle Ram boxes. She saw them as clutter, but for me they were almost stories in and of themselves. You could see whole adventures unfolding in a single painted scene.

Unfortunately, good photographs or scans of the original art are not available for every piece. If you happen to have a nicer images than I do (higher resolution, better composition, etc), please do feel free to share, and I’ll make an update! For pictures of the packaging itself, a neutral (white or black) background is preferred. High resolution scans of the artwork, where it appears without logos, would be ideal. Bottom line – if you have better images than I do, please share them!

One final note: I’m defining box art as the front-facing painted artwork that appeared on boxed Masters of the Universe toys. The illustrations on blister card packaging, then, are outside the scope of this series.

Part Five: 1986

Name: Blasterhawk
Year: 1986
Artist: William George
Description: Battle Armor He-Man launches a flying disk from the cockpit of the Blasterhawk.

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Name: Eternia
Year: 1986
Artist: William George
Description: The three towers of Eternia stand between Castle Grayskull and Snake Mountain. Beast Man scales the central tower and Rattlor and Tung Lashor head toward the lion’s head entrance. Man-At-Arms fires the cannon at the top of the tower. Flying Fists He-Man and Terror Claws Skeletor do battle off to the side. A volcano erupts in the distance.

Battle Cat corners Stinkor at the Grayskull Tower, while several horde troopers rush up the outer stairs toward Snout Spout, who is dodging laser blasts from the Battle Tram. Rio Blast and Extendar stand at the top of Grayskull Tower, as the Fright Fighter flies by. Meanwhile, Moss Man drives Bashasaurus down the road from Castle Grayskull to Grayskull Tower.

Sy-Klone flies Blasterhawk near the summit of Viper Tower, and Megabeast rounds the corner at the base.

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Name: Flying Fists He-Man & Terror Claws Skeletor
Year: 1986
Artist: William George
Description: Flying Fists He-Man raises his shield as Terror Claws Skeletor approaches. Castle Grayskull looms ominously in the distance.

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Image Source: MOTU Art Facebook Page
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Image Source: Grayskull Museum

Name: Fright Fighter
Year: 1986
Artist: William George
Description: Battle Armor Skeletor pilots Fright Fighter, firing canons at unseen enemies. Down below on the crater-covered ground, Man-At-Arms, Battle Armor He-Man, and Roboto look skyward, weapons raised.

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Name: Hordak and Mantisaur
Year: 1986
Artist: Joe Chiodo
Description: By Hordak’s hand, Mantisaur captures Thunder Punch He-Man in thick jungle area. In a separate scene, Hordak, mounted on Mantisaur, surveys a giant crater in the middle of a vast desert.

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mantisaur1
hord-mant-giftset

Name: Jet Sled & He-Man
Year: 1986
Artist: Unknown
Description: He-Man pilots the Jet Sled over a volcanic desert. A small dragon flees from the approaching aircraft.

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jet-sled-he-man-giftset-crazy-collectors
Image source: Crazy Collectors

Name: Laser Bolt
Year: 1986
Artist: William George
Description: Battle Armor He-Man guides the Laser Bolt over difficult desert terrain as he fires on unseen enemies. A small dinosaur scurries out of the way.

laser-bolt-best

Name: Mantisaur
Year: 1986
Artist: Joe Chiodo
Description: By Hordak’s hand, Mantisaur captures Thunder Punch He-Man in thick jungle area. In a separate scene, Hordak, mounted on Mantisaur, surveys a giant crater in the middle of a vast desert.

manti2
mantisaur1


Name: Monstroid
Year: 1986
Artist: Unknown
Description: Monstroid spins in circles with Sy-Klone and Man-At-Arms captured in its claws. Thunder Punch He-Man and Roboto try to find a way to rescue their friends.

monstroidart

Name: Multi-Bot
Year: 1986
Artist: Unknown
Description: Multi-Bot is shown in 10 body configurations and poses.

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Image source: Axel Giménez
multibotart

Image source: Grayskull Museum

Name: Slime Pit
Year: 1986
Artist: William George
Description: Beast Man is trapped in the Slime Pit. Hordak pours ooze all over the hapless minion of Skeletor. In the background are the ruins of an ancient civilization.

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More in this series:

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